Rug of the Day: Visions of a Magic Carpet by Ella Mae Nez

Burntwater by Ella Mae NezBurntwater by Ella Mae Nez
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66″x86″ Oriental carpet design in Burntwater Colors by Ella Mae Nez

Tempe, AZ With so much of our news centered on the Middle East today, I immediately sought out a picture of this magnificent rug woven in 2007-2008 by Ella Mae Nez.  Nominally this design is a Burntwater, but in many ways it can be seen as a magic carpet that shows how the vision and imagination of a weaver can be molded by her experiences.  Ella Mae is one of many Navajo people who have served in the armed services and she spent a tour of  duty in Iraq.   While she was there, she photographed as many of the locally woven rugs as she could and developed the pattern for this weaving after she arrived home.   The rug was entered into the 2008 Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial, where it won best in class for Burntwater weavings.  Ella Mae was true to the scale of the Middle Eastern rugs that she was emulating, sizing her weaving at an impressive 5′ 6″ x 7′ 2″.

The rug is woven with vegetally dyed Burnham’s #1 yarns and the picture was taken at R.B. Burnham and Co. on August 11, 2008 using a Canon Powershot G7 camera.    The weaving sold for approximately $19,000 or about $482 per square foot.  I’m not aware of any additional rugs of this type that Ella Mae has woven, so this may prove to be one a of a kind.  Let’s hope that the weavers everywhere in the Middle East, whether they are in the service or native to the region can increasingly focus on their art.  The world could use more magic carpets.

Detail of Oriental design by Ella Mae NezDetail of Oriental design by Ella Mae Nez
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Hover your mouse over the picture see the details close up.

 

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker

Rug of the Day: Room Sized Klagetoh Red by Louise M. Cly

Louise M. Cly Klagetoh Red Rug

Rug size very seldom woven any longer, an 8'x12' rug by Louise M. Cly. Hover your mouse over the picture for a closer view.

Bruce, Kary and Louse Cly Rug

Bruce and Kary (standing in front of Louise Cly's rug) are both over six feet tall. (Click for a larger view)

Tempe, AZ Because of the economics of large rugs woven in parts of the world with low wages, very few large Navajo rugs are woven today.  This 8′x12′ rug was one of those consigned to the Friends of Hubbell Native American Arts Auction last September and carried an asking price of $19,000, which it did not receive that day, although I suspect that the weaver, Louise M. Cly, has been able to sell it for a lower price in the past few months.   At 96 square feet, the asking price was just shy of $200 a square foot and would have netted the weaver just over $17,100 had it sold in that venue.  One of my friends says that a master weaver (and Louise is clearly in that class) can weave about a square foot a day, so figuring that the weaver puts in an eight hour day, this would net her a little over $20 per hour for the skill involved in producing a masterpiece like this.  Hardly a fortune, especially considering that the weaving was probably spread over a longer time frame, but enough to make weaving a viable source of income in an area where conventional jobs are scarce.  The risk to the weaver in a piece of this size, though, is considerable.  There is at least $300 to $400 worth of yarn involved and absolutely no guarantee of a payday.  That is why most large rugs woven today are commissioned pieces that involve payments to the weaver during the time that the rug is woven and why it was surprising to see it appear at auction.

The design is called a Klagetoh Red, a cousin of the more famous Ganado Red.  Klagetoh is a community about 20 miles south of Ganado and the weavers there use gray as the background to black, dark red, gray and white design elements in contrast to the dark red background of the Ganado Red.  This particular Klagetoh Red design is called a Snowflake Pattern becuse it is composed of squared elements that resemble snowflakes from a distance.   The picture at left will help you to appreciate the scale of the rug.  Bruce Burnham and Kary Dunham, standing in front of the rug, are both over six feet tall.   The picture was taken using a Canon G9 camera on September 18, 2010 at the Friends of Hubbell Native American Arts Auction. The next Friends of Hubbell auction is on May 14, 2011.  R.B. Burnham and Co. are the auctioneers.

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker

Introducing The Humderbird

The Humderbird

Not a hummingbird, not a thunderbird, he's a little of each with a good dose of attitude: The Humderbird

Tempe, AZ I finished this little weaving called The Humderbird last Saturday.  The design is derivative of work done by Mae Clark, Janet Tsinnie and Jennie Slick.  It’s woven in reproduction Germantown yarn from R.B. Burnham and Co on a C-Cactusflower Maxi loom.  It’s priced to not sell at $750,000.  Hey,  I only need to sell one.   Seriously, I either hang on to my weavings or give them to friends as gifts.   You can click on the picture above for a larger view, and if you hover your mouse over the picture below you can zoom in on the detail of the Humderbird.

The Humderbird Detail

Hover your mouse over the picture see the details close up.

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Weaving in Beauty October Class: Burnham’s Trading Post and Richardson’s

Our class is making great progress on their weaving and today we made our way to R.B. Burnham and Company Trading Post in Sanders, Arizona and then went on the Gallup, New Mexico for a visit to Richardson’s Trading, which is home to the world’s largest Navajo rug room.

At Burnham’s, we enjoyed talking about rug designs and various types of wool that have been used in Navajo weaving.  That lead us into a discussion of the importance of sheep in traditional Navajo life and Virginia Burnham told us about her experiences in caring for her family’s sheep as a very young child.

Virginia Burnham talks about the role of sheep in Navajo culture with Gloria Thompson (left) and Rosemary Morrill (right) as Bruce Burnham looks on.

Virginia Burnham talks about the role of sheep in Navajo culture with Gloria Thompson (left) and Rosemary Morrill (right) as Bruce Burnham looks on.

A visit with Bruce and Virgina is always interesting and we also enjoyed spending some time in their wool room.  Before we left, we took a group picture with Bruce and Virginia that you can see below.

From left, Mary Falzone, Jan Souders

From left, Mary Falzone, Jan Souders, Ann Enyart, Nance Howsman, Cheryl Griffin, Diane Craig, Gloria Thompson, Thomas Griffin, Rosemary Morrill, Bruce Burnham, Virginia Burnham at R.B. Burnham and Co. in Sanders, AZ.

Next we went to Jennie Slick’s home and she showed the class how large floor rugs are woven, demonstrating with a large Burntwater rug that she is working on for a client.   She hopes to finish it by the end of the year.

Jennie Slick weaves as Thomas Griffin looks on.

Jennie Slick weaves as Thomas Griffin looks on.

Our final stop for the day was at Richardson Trading in Gallup, New Mexico.  There we were allowed the privilege of exploring the world’s largest Navajo rug room on our own, and we even got Thomas to model a First Phase Chief Blanket dyed with cochineal and indigo.

Thomas models a First Phase Chief Blanket at Richardson's Trading Company in Gallup, NM.

Thomas models a First Phase Chief Blanket at Richardson's Trading in Gallup.